News From the Sun Bow Front:
Dear friends and family,
Well, it's been a full 10 years since 9/11, and the changes in Turkey are major:
Firstly, the Turkish economy is booming - hotels in Istanbul are FULL, restaurants are full, and tourists are everywhere. The Hali Hotel was very accommodating to me, even though they were also full.
Summer in Turkey is filled with fresh, local fruits and vegetables. In addition, the fish was fabulous and the lamb was extra sweet. t was a wonderful time with friends, food, and great rugs and kilims.
Konya is still the place to see wonderful art textiles and the prices are super good - probably because buyers tend to stop at Istanbul and the Konya merchants are very motivated sellers.
Secondly, the streets, and the highways are clean. It is a major improvement from even 10 years ago.
And, Turkey is reveling in its position of number 17th in the world economy. Their president, Erdogan is drawing much local support for his popularity outside Turkey.
Click here for a slide show of images from the September trip
With all these improvements, the prices of Anatolian carpets and kilims has pretty much remained the same. So, even with the decline in the Dollar, our prices have more or less remained stable.
News from Istanbul:
visited a new building on Nuresmania Cadessa (the major carpet street in Istanbul). It is a show case for a Turkish Cultural Foundation, has a great location, and is one of the most beautiful showings I have seen in a long, long time. Fabulous clothing, art, ceramics, and food (on the top floor).
An amazing treat, loved the presentation and layout, and the clothing knocked my socks off. Ottoman fashions, done with the same materials and workmanship. Had some camera problems, so I hope to have pictures after our upcoming February trip.
Had lunch at their Terrace Restaurant (Nar) with my old carpet buddy, Ismit Odabashi, and Senay Calistar, an editor of the Istanbul Historical Peninsula Guide. I found this guide to be very interesting, and even useful. It had some neat history and was very well written. Liked it.
The lunch itself was very nice - met the head chef (he trained in Europe) - and would recommend the buffet. Hope to do the more formal dinner in February.
News from Konya:
Ahmet's Place is gone, but everyone else seems to still be alive and well. Young Partners felt shop - Mystic Arts - is doing fabulous work, and Karavan is about to move from its 25 year location in an old hamam, to a massive multi floored shop just behind Mevlana Cadesse. As always, I found great stuff in Konya. Seems my timing was perfect, as two places just had their kilims returned from the wash and sun on the day I arrived. So, I got first pick. Yeah!
Found out why some Kofta tastes so much better than other Kofta - it's in the way they dice the meat. Of course, the best taste is from chopping, not grinding. Once I found that out, my Kofta experience became first rate!
This trip we visited the ancient city of Karaman. It's about an hour and a half from Konya, and is the resting place for Jellaluddin Rumi's mother - Minune Hatun. Of course we visited and paid our respects. The peace and radiance of the mosque and her tomb is palpable.
Rumi wrote about her: "I looked up at the stars, and saw the valley below me. I was like running water being gently rocked in a cradle. And so, I left my mother here to sleep for eternity."
My old friend, Mehmet Uchar, and his school buddy Abdullah, drove me. Memhet has finally been given permission to open his boutique hotel in Konya. It's only been a 10 year struggle with the local authorities, but he hope to be open for guests in a month or so.
As mentioned before, school ties are still very important in Turkey, and people give a lot of "face" to their old University buddies.
We also visited an old friend from Diyarbikar University, with whom both Mehmet and Abdullah went to teachers college. They are still in touch after almost 25 years.
We met at a government center for teachers. It seems that there are associations for all the trades in Turkey - even soldiers have one. They are a great place to meet, and have tea, and if one is traveling, a room there is only 20 Turkish Lira ($11.50) a night.
We also visited both the old fortress (rebuilt), and the Karaman bazaar. There we visited and had tea at the last rug store in Karaman. The owner says all the other dealers have died or retired, and he is about to retire too. He said that none of the local villagers are bringing in their rugs and kilims for sale anymore. He had very little to for us to see, and even less for us to consider taking home. Another sign of the end-times.
Still and all, this trip was both fruitful and fun. The food was as good as always, and we found everything we needed.
Now we are awaiting the arrival of our newest treasures.
The tea is hot, and the stories are all new and improved.
We await the pleasure of your company
saul & the sun bow crew